Showing posts with label Edgar James Wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edgar James Wood. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Wood's Society Syncopators

This banner, on velvet, dates from hubby's father's career playing jazz piano during and after college in the jazz era of the mid-1920s.

Who were the Society Syncopators? Well, originally, Fate Marable's Society Syncopators popularized jazz on Mississippi riverboats during the 1920s--most likely the inspiration for Edgar James Wood using a similar name for his jazz band or trio.

Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators were the band in 1959's Some Like It Hot, which is set in 1929.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

52 Ancestors #44: Edgar J. Wood's Jazz-Era Summer of Playing Jazz in Europe

When my father-in-law Edgar J. Wood (1903-1986) was in college at Tufts, he spent two summers during the 1920s playing his way across the Atlantic as part of an All-American college jazz band. At least two dozen college jazz bands toured Europe each summer, following a similar pattern.

Ed and his band buddies would board an ocean-liner in New York, receive free passage by playing for guests during the trans-Atlantic voyage, and then criss-cross Europe, playing at clubs and resorts that had booked their services. They would cruise back to New York in the same way, trading music for passage.

Above, Ed (second from right) with his college buddies on the S.S. Rotterdam, looking natty in their blazers and bow-ties, neat white trousers, and stylish shoes. Ed is the only one without an instrument, because his grand piano was in the ship's grand salon.

The 1926 summer band consisted of: Leo Lyons, Norm Mertelmeyer, Jimmie Rosselli, Joe Rosselli, Gil Gilbert, Ed Wood, Al Egerter, and Jack Conant.

Ed's scrapbook of this summer jazz tour includes a clipping from the Boston Herald of October 10, 1926. So 88 years ago this month, 23-year-old Ed was interviewed about his most recent jazz-era summer job. He told the interviewer about an unforgettable gig they played in a palace in Venice:
One of the things I remember best was when we played at a costume ball given by Count Volki, Italian minister of finance--he was at the head of the Italian debt commission to the United States, you know--at his castle on the Grand Canal, in honor of Prince Umberto, the Crown Prince. It was attended by members of the royal family and a host of Italian dukes and counts. It was one of the things that you see only in the movies, unless you are fortunate enough to be a member of the Italian nobility or a jazz musician.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Index Your Ancestors' Documents!

If you're lucky enough to have more than a few pages of documents inherited from your ancestors' lives, my number one tip is: Index them!

Otherwise, future generations won't know who's mentioned where--and they might not take the time to read all the way through. With an index, they can look up individuals quickly and easily. And for family history researchers, the index gives us extra help seeing connections between people, events, dates.

I have three sets of documents that have been passed down in the family:
  1. Farkas Family Tree reports and minutes. My mother's family accumulated 500 pages of meeting minutes from the 30 years of the Farkas Family Tree, a family association that began in 1933. I scanned 'em all, read 'em all, and then prepared an index listing every person mentioned. It took a while, but above you can see the results. Mr. & Mrs. B, the first family members listed in the index, were only at one meeting, June 1946. Others in that family were mentioned numerous times, as shown in this index. Who could resist looking up their parents' or grandparents' or first cousins' names? That's the allure and advantage of an index.
  2. Father-in-law Edgar J. Wood's diaries. For decades, Edgar Wood kept a brief diary with 1-3 sentences per day. I indexed every family and friend mentioned in the diaries, including names that were unfamiliar. Eventually, cross-referencing the entries led me and my husband to be able to identify cousins and pinpoint the exact relationships between most of the folks named. Without indexing, we wouldn't have connected the dots between people discussed in multiple entries
  3. Letters to Mom during the 1930s/40s. I have transcribed these dozens of letters and will index these soon. Preparing a time line based on the index will help me follow friends and relatives during the years after Mom (Daisy Schwartz) graduated high school and before she married Dad (Harry Burk).
I know I groan when I see a collection of documents on Family Search or Ancestry that is NOT indexed. With an index, I can do a quick search. It's the same with our family documents. I want those who come after me to dip into these documents, so now they're indexed, with a bit of explanation about who's who.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Cruising Along, Thanks to Photos and Diary

Scanning old photos -- pried up from the pages of a magnetic album with thin dental floss -- I found that my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood didn't just label the back of his photos, he typed the labels. (The grid marks on the label are from the glue of that awful magnetic album. Grrrrr.)

So this is Edgar and his wife, Marian Jane McClure Wood, on one of their many European trips. Edgar had worked his way across the Atlantic playing in a band while in college during the 1920s. When he married Marian and they had a family, they had to stay put. Later, with the children grown, they resumed their travels.

Because I have Edgar's diaries from 1959-1985, I can flip through his notes of this very trip.

They flew from Cleveland on Sept 2 to New York, visited with family, and sailed for Europe on Sept 5, arriving in Southampton on Sept 9. Met up with their sis-in-law Lindy and then flew to Paris, on to Lyon, Venice, Rome, Athens, Vienna, and finally to Trieste, where they boarded the Cristoforo Colombo for Halifax and then New York.

Edgar describes the day of November 5, 1969, this ways: "Sea calmer. Most of day on deck. Gala Farewell Dinner. Scrabble, then looked in on elaborate and good floor show 'Neapolitan Carousel.'"

He took Italian language lessons on the ship, something he continued on and off for years. And he passed his love of travel and foreign language down to his children.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Edgar J. Wood and Trio at "Marty's"

Publicity shot of Edgar J. Wood at the piano, with his younger son on guitar and Banjo Al, another local musician, for their gig at Marty's in Northfield, Ohio.

Originally, hubby thought this was related to the trio's gig at Mother's, a bar and grill in Cleveland, but his brother says it was definitely Marty's. "Mother's" was so named because regulars could, in all honesty, say they were stopping off at Mother's on the way home from work :)

And the photo at right, taken at a different time, has an inscription showing that Edgar Wood is, indeed, playing at Marty's. The date, as you can see, is February 1961. Thank you to hubby for making notes on the back of some photos!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Dance Card from Zeta Psi Frat, 1923


My late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, kept a scrapbook of his college years. As a member of the Kappa Chapter of Zeta Psi Fraternity at Tufts, he enjoyed many frat and sorority dances--and held onto the dance cards from each one.

Above, a page from his scrapbook, showing some of the programs/dance cards.

Left, his dance card from a pledge dance in January, 1923.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Edgar Wood at the Keyboard


This is a very rare photo of my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, playing the piano after retirement. He had played his way across the Atlantic during the summers of his college years in the late 1920s.

For decades afterward, he played professionally at nights and on weekends while continuing his "day job" as an insurance adjustor.

Lucky for me, he played a couple of numbers at my wedding to his son, not too many years after this photo was taken. Blog entry #300 is dedicated to Ed. PS: I just unearthed a 1985 photo of Ed at the piano, below :)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar J. Wood's College Scrapbook

It's easy to get the impression that my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, majored in Broadway and music while at Tufts College (class of 1926). In fact, his major was economics, and although he attended for 4 years, he didn't graduate.

At least two full pages of Ed's college scrapbook are filled with ticket stubs like those above, with the name of the play and his companion(s), handwritten below. Ed was an avid theater-goer throughout life and passed that love to his children.

He also played in bands, sang with the glee club, and was a member of several music clubs at Tufts. Above is a letter advising him that he'd been selected to travel with the Tufts Musical Clubs from April 15-22, 1925. The clubs performed in Bristol, CT; Hartford, CT; Meriden, CT; New York City; Mt. Vernon, NY; and again in New York City, culminating in an appearance at the luxe Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

I'm certain that Ed took this trip--which would have returned him to Tufts just before his mother, Mary Slatter Wood, died on April 24, 1925, in Cleveland, OH. When my husband asked Ed about whether he returned home for Mary's funeral, Ed replied:


I think I was out playing a job, and came back to the dormitory, and a brother Zate [Zeta Psi, the fraternity] came to the dormitory and told me they'd gotten word that she had died. I think her health had been like [my wife] Mar­ian's, it had not been the best, so it wasn't a big surprise. I had no money, so I went to a guy by the name of _____, one of the professors of music, and a Zate also, and borrowed 50 bucks...Before the summer was over I paid it back. So I had to borrow money and take a train back to Cleveland for the funeral. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amenuensis Monday: Tufts College Album, Zeta Psi House, 1925

When Edgar James Wood (my late father-in-law) went to Tufts College, Massachusetts, he saved memorabilia and put together a scrapbook of his college years. His frat friends signed the book in 1925, as shown above. Here's a transcription of the first page of names, hometowns, birth dates (!), and "ambitions." Maybe one of these college kids' descendants will do a search and find this list!

Charles Errol Exley, from Trinidad, B.W.I., nickname: Bill, b. August 27, 1903. Ambition: To see Ed pass French.

Fred J. Sanders, from Southington, Conn., nickname: Ted, b. April 22, 1907. Ambition: To see "the Jumboniane" working.

Joseph Harrison, from Newark, NJ, nickname: Joe, b. June 10, 1904. Ambition: To see Edgar with a team that will make Paul & Vinnie look foolish.

Austin C. Robinson, from Fitchburg, Mass., nickname: Ace, b. September 4, 1905. Ambition: To see Ed so tight he can't move.

Robert B. Rice, from Longmeadow, Mass., nickname: Bob, b. 1900. Ambition: To see Ed. dance.

Norman S. Smith, from Brookline, Mass., nickname: Norm, b. June 11, 1903. Ambition: To hear a battle of music between Paul Whiteman and the "Jumbonians."

Austin T. Ropes, from Salem, Mass., nickname: Hemp, b. Jan. 25. Ambition: To go to a dance with Ed.

Russel L. Carpenter '24, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Bud, b. November 7, 1901. Ambition: To read the banjo parts.

Herbert Edwon Lawson Jr., from New York City, nickname: Pop, b. February 9, 1905. Ambition: To teach Ed to inhale [beets?].

Lawrence M. Dawson, from Meriden, Conn., nickname: Larry, b. October 25. Ambition: TO see "Dead Wood" in the balcony scene with Marie _____.

Armand J. Gariepy, from Barre, Mass., nickname: Gary, b. July 31, 1901. Ambition: "Control the stock market.

Chas. J. Odenweller 3rd, Arlington, Mass., nickname: Ody, b. December 30, 1903. Ambition: To go to Cleveland again.

Vivian Wight, Bethel, Maine, nickname: Viv., b. July 12, 1903. Ambition: To see you in Portland.

C. Proctor Stanley, N.E. Harbor, Maine, nickname: Pieye [?], b. July 6, 1904. Ambition: To play baseball.

George V. Perry, Lawrence, Mass., nickname: G.V., b. August 5, 1902. Ambition: Just now, to graduate.

Walter A. Weisleder, Meriden, Conn., nickname: [none], b. July 9, 1905. Ambition: TO get Eddie & Leo to agree.

Jack Hayes, Brooklyn, NY, nickname: "Jack" - "Spud," b. October 14, 1904. Ambition: There ain't no such onion.

Wm. H. Griffiths, Crestwood, Tuckahoe, NY, nickname: Bill, b. April 20, 1906. Ambition: To hear Eddy on the transatlantic radio.

Jack Norton, Cobleshill, New York State, nickname: [none], b. July 30. Ambition: To have Eddie remember to take his room key when he goes out.

"Fen" Reilly, West Medford, Mass, nickname: "Cap'n," b. February 6, 1906. Ambition: [none listed]

Joseph Rosselli, Waterbury, Conn., nickname: Joe, b. December 23, 1903. Ambition: To see Eddie drunk.

Joshua J. Bernstein, Springfield, Mass., nickname: Josh, b. June 15, 1905. Ambition: To spend four more years.

Ralph "Dutch" Lehan, Stoughton, Mass., nickname: "Dutch," b. "too long to remember." Ambition: To kick hell out of Reed & Browlen.

John J. Purcell, Meriden, Conn., nickname: "Jack" P., b. November 10, 1901. Ambition: To find one.

Eugene Eaton Smith, Tufts college, Mass., nickname: Gene, b. April 14, 1912 [sic]. Ambition: To tutor Eddie for P.B.K. and a degree.

P. George Nye, Malden, Mass., nickname: Joe the Great, Colonel, Sister Faint Flower, b. June 31, 1913 [sic]. Ambition: Why ? And who cares?

James E. Nickerson, West Harwich, Mass., nickname: "Red" "Nick," b. December 9, 1905. Ambition: I guess so.

Gordon L. Walls, "Where ere my hat be hung" [hometown], nickname: "The Count," b. April 4, 1905. Ambition: To hear Eddie soloing with the Symphony(!)

W. H. Erickson Jr., "Anywhere you wish" [hometown], nickname: "Shorty," b. November 8, 1904. Ambition: To play in a ___ band.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Archival Boxes and Found Treasures

This was "getting organized" week. I've been threatening to put photos and other treasures into archival boxes...and this week, I finally did it. The photo shows just some of the archival boxes I have stored on my bookcase, each with photos/documents/etc for a specific branch of my family tree.

Not all individual photos have labels (yet!) but at least they're separated by family name, a very good first step. Well, almost. One box, you might notice, is "to be sorted," but I can identify almost everyone in that box's photos and so it's a matter of putting them into the correct boxes. And did I mention how much I love my little label-maker, which makes everything look so neat and organized?

Sorting through documents in my "E.J. Wood" file, I came across a photo I didn't remember, showing Edgar James Wood (my late father-in-law) at top right, his wife Marian McClure Wood at left, and between them, her father Brice Larimer McClure. Ed & Marian's three children are in the front row. My hubby is the camera-shy older son at left, his younger brother is in the middle, and their sister is at right.



Another treasure: Ed's certificates of copyright registration for songs he composed. This one is for "High on a Hilltop," which he registered in April, 1950. He also registered "Shaker Heights Polka" in February, 1961, and "Love Is a Boundless Ocean" (music by Edgar J. Wood, words by George W. Teare) in October, 1932.

Ed had played his way across the Atlantic with college bands during the 1920s and was a part-time professional piano player for many years, working mainly on weekends to supplement his day job as an insurance adjuster. He played a couple of numbers during my wedding to his son!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar J. Wood, Tufts '26


Just a few days ago, a box arrived from my sis-in-law. Inside: The elaborate college scrapbook kept by my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, who attended Tufts College in Massachusetts, starting in 1922! Above is a close-up of the cover, showing Tuft's logo and Ed's name and expected graduation year.

I checked with Tufts, as suggested by Bryna in her comment below, and learned that Ed didn't graduate, although he attended classes and was active at the school until at least the middle of May of 1926 (graduation was in June, 1926). His major was economics, another fact the family didn't know.

College must have been the time of his life, because Ed kept all kinds of memorabilia, including dance cards (which I didn't know men even had), menus from banquets, ticket stubs from shows, photos, etc. He was a member of Zeta Psi fraternity, and much of the memorabilia related to his frat brothers, trips, shows, etc.  

What a treasure chest: My husband and his sibs don't remember Ed ever showing them this scrapbook. We're all mesmerized by the exuberant life Ed led more than a decade before he married and settled down for good in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I'll be transcribing the names of Ed's frat brothers (and their home towns) in future posts.

Above are the cover from the frat "annual banquet" Ed attended on December 9, 1922, at Boston's famous Parker House, and the inside page where he is listed as "neophyte" of the 1926 class. More to come!
 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar of Memories: Christmas Past

My late father-in-law, Edgar J. Wood, kept a diary for many years, usually in yearly calendar diaries given as gifts to customers by Edgar's employer, the Buckeye Union Insurance Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Years after Edgar retired, the company kept sending him the diaries at year's end, and he faithfully wrote a few lines every day with his fountain pen.

Here are the entries he wrote for Christmas day in 1959, 1969, and 1979. (My genealogical explanations are in italics within parentheses). In 1959 and 1969, Edgar and his wife Marian McClure Wood, were living in Cleveland, Ohio. By 1979, they had moved to Pittsfield, Mass., to be near Wally and his family.
  • 1959. After breakfast, presents!! R (my hubby Wally's first wife) brought up Brice (hubby's maternal grandfather). Later, Leta, Chip, Jeff & Tim (Leta was Wally's aunt, the three boys are his first cousins) dropped in for buffet supper. Much singing around piano, "Guys & Dolls" getting a big play. Ernie & Gorden Pettit (friends of Wally's) dropped in. All in all, a big day.
  • 1969. Christmas morning, everyone opened presents. In P.M., W (Wally) and R (his wife) had friends in for an open-house "Sing Along." Cold & snow outside. Stayed in all day. Showed the slides of trip (Edgar and Marian took a big European trip in 1969 via ocean liner and train, arriving in England and continuing to Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria before returning by ship to New York City and then by train to Cleveland).
  • 1979. AM: 10:00 o'clock service. To P.O. (post office, presumably, to mail cards). P.M.: Home for lunch. Some practicing (he played piano professionally). Reading. Paperwork. Evening: To W's (Wally's) where R (his wife) prepared one of her very fine dinners. Later, exchange of presents, some from B (Wally's sister). Visiting.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Captain John D. Slatter

This week I connected with the granddaughter of Captain John D. Slatter! As mentioned earlier this month, Capt. Jack was (we now know) my husband's great-uncle. We plan to get acquainted with her and her brother, and exchange photos and info.

Her family knew nothing of my husband's grandmother, Capt. Slatter's sister Mary Slatter, who married James Edgar Wood in 1898 in Toledo, OH, and we knew nothing of her grandfather, an illustrious military bandleader.

A very kind genealogy angel in Canada looked up Capt. Jack's obit in the Globe & Mail of December 9, 1954 (he died on Dec 7). Here it is, complete with the names (not completely correct) of his survivors:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: 2 Weddings and a Reception


Wally wanted to get married on his birthday, which worked well because two days later, we were to leave for Europe. He had an assignment to cover a symposium in Salzburg, so it made sense to turn that into a honeymoon (and go to Paris and London too). Wouldn't you??

  



So on a Thursday night, we and our siblings and their spouses met at the Intercontinental Hotel in Manhattan, walked to Chez Vong (trendy Chinese/French restaurant), had Peking Duck to our heart's content, and came back for a small ceremony in the hotel. Despite some light rain, the whole evening was wonderful. That was wedding #1. On Friday, I went to work to finish getting things ready and Wally returned home to pack. Saturday morning we flew to Salzburg...

Wedding #2 took place 3 weeks later. We were back from Europe and had arranged a reception at a Westchester country club with a distant view of the river (alas, the club is now defunct). On a beautiful fall day, with 120 friends and family, Wally and I said "I do" once again.

  
The photo at top shows Wally with his father, Edgar James Wood, who sat in on piano for a few minutes during the dance period, being a professional musician by night when he was an insurance adjuster by day throughout his working years. At right, hubby and I are taking a break from our 2 weddings and a reception. Great memories!

Friday, July 22, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Water (Cruising Along)

My in-laws, Marian Jane McClure Wood and Edgar James Wood, absolutely loved cruising to Europe and back. (I've written an entry about his college days, paying his way across the Atlantic by playing in bands.) Ed took photos and slides everywhere, as well as making notes during the journey, so we know where/when they cruised.

Above, for example, they're enjoying the "Farewell Dinner" aboard the Cristoforo Colombo on Wednesday, November 5, 1969 (according to the caption on back of the photo). Below, they're smiling at the Gala Dinner on the S.S. France on Monday, September 4, 1967.

My hubby and I love to cruise too. This year and last, we went to the Baltic. Nowadays, we each carry a camera and take photos (hundreds and hundreds). Then we choose 100 or so to put into a Shutterfly book. Here's a favorite shot from our visit to the Hermitage last month. Great memories!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Those Places Thursday - European Band Tour

Edgar James Wood, born in Cleveland, OH, spent his summers in between college semesters touring Europe with a band. They'd get hired to play on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic and then pick up gigs as they moved around Europe. This is a poster from 1926, when Edgar was playing in Dick Bowers' Band. Although they didn't make much money, they did have lots of adventures and see the world. Decades later, Edgar (my late father-in-law) was still talking about his summer band tours and cruise dates.